Kaimana in Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia offers one of the last frontiers of marine biodiversity on earth – and offers a very special Highlight. The unique symbiosis between fishermen and Whalesharks offers visitors a very high chance to Dive and Snorkel with these gentle giants.

Triton Bay, a pristine destination, unspoiled by development or mass tourism, has some of the stunning sites for divers willing to take a liveaboard. Seldom dived, the bay around Kaimana and offers divers unrivaled beauty and wonder with its unique habitats, limestone formations, excellent muck diving, a variety of soft corals and the highest recorded biomass in Indonesia – all with the backdrop of Papua’s wild and lush jungle.

©Nick Law A 9m whale shark circles small fish netted by local fishermen in Papua. ?The fishermen the sharks bring good luck and so share part of there daily catch with these gentle giants.
©Nick Law A 9m whale shark circles small fish netted by local fishermen in Papua. ?The fishermen the sharks bring good luck and so share part of there daily catch with these gentle giants.

Odd Friendship

Kaimana fishermen have known and respected the water giants for a long time before the area became a point of interest for Divers and Freedivers. Local fishermen use self-made floating platforms called ‘bagans’ to both live and work in. Bagans look like a massive wooden float-boat with vast nets stretched along its perimeter. At night the nets are unrolled and lowered deep in the water whilst large projectors scattered along the edges of the platform are lit up to attract big schools of baitfish. The Whale sharks usually come in the morning, along with the bigger pelagic fish, for leftovers from the nights catch for an easy meal.

©Nick Law Barefoot Yachts Whaleshark Fisherman looks out over whale sharks coming in to accept there reward of bait fish. The fish are offered as a thank you to the sharks for bringing good luck to the floating bamboo structures – the Bangans. The fisherman believe the sharks will help to bring the targeted bait fish in towards the bagans during the nights fishing ahead.
©Nick Law Barefoot Yachts Whaleshark Fisherman looks out over whale sharks coming in to accept there reward of bait fish. The fish are offered as a thank you to the sharks for bringing good luck to the floating bamboo structures – the Bangans. The fisherman believe the sharks will help to bring the targeted bait fish in towards the bagans during the nights fishing ahead.

Humans and animals grew to respect each other here, whale sharks bring good luck to the fishermen in return for a delicious treat. Partially a preventive measure to avoid the filching of nets but mostly a matter of superstition, fishermen feed the whale sharks, appearing, as if on cue, at first light with scraps of small fish. Locals believe whale sharks to be a token signifying good fortune and a great catch.

Whale Sharks, the largest known fish, do indeed bring good fortune. One of the latest examples of their known positive karma is they are now bringing in an influx of tourists, benefiting the local community.

©Nick Law Whaleshark Papua Barefoot Yachts Whale Shark is the largest fish in the sea growing up to 40 feet (12 meters) and weighing 20 tons. Remoras accompany this whale shark in their way to feed on fishermen’s baitfish.
©Nick Law Whaleshark Papua Barefoot Yachts Whale Shark is the largest fish in the sea growing up to 40 feet (12 meters) and weighing 20 tons. Remoras accompany this whale shark in their way to feed on fishermen’s baitfish.

These gentle giants receive their rewards directly from the fishermen or they use their powerful mouths to suck bait from the holes in the nets, hovering just beneath the surface of the water. They often feed in a herd, sharing meals with their mates and companion, making it a perfect scene for a prolonged close encounter with these tropical sharks. These timely feasts are one of the few chances where scientific observers, whale shark admirers and everyone in between can encounter whale sharks in congregations.

Diving Kaimana and Triton Bay

Comprising more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has always been known as one of the top-class world diving and cruising destinations. Often sought out by deep sea adventurers and liveaboard cruisers alike, this extremely diverse pocket of the world is a wonderland of land and sea.

©Diana Himmelspach Whaleshark surface Whale shark is a filter feeder, to eat they swim close to the water surface opening wide their huge chaps of 5 feet wide (1,5 m) and filtering everything from plankton to small fish.
©Diana Himmelspach Whaleshark surface Whale shark is a filter feeder, to eat they swim close to the water surface opening wide their huge chaps of 5 feet wide (1,5 m) and filtering everything from plankton to small fish.

However, despite Indonesia’s well-chartered waters, West Papua’s Kaimana in Triton Bay is one of the last frontiers of Indonesia. Triton Bay has long been known to have a year-round presence of whale sharks and an incredible amount of diverse micro and macro pelagic life, like the notable Manta Ray, Sea Turtle and Walking Shark. But this secret has only recently been discovered by the dive community and is now visited, but not often, by a handful of Liveaboard Yachts.

Even though Kaimana is now served by small passenger flights, this unique, hidden paradise offers a glimpse of the natural world before large-scale human intervention and the irresponsibility of mass tourism. Triton Bay is a divers paradise. This nutrient-rich bay supports a lush and colorful coral overlay attracting all manner of marine life. There are already 30 dive sites, and counting, including but not limited to Black forest, Little Komodo, Aquarium, Larry’s Heaven, Batu Jeruk, Batu Jatuh, Bo’s Rainbow and Disneyland. Triton Bay has the highest recorded biomass in Indonesia, therefore it is likely you will dive amongst the best Indonesia has to offer. Exposed rocks and seamounts support large and small schooling fish, colorful reefs blanketed with soft coral gardens and enormous black coral bushes forming picturesque undersea islands, soft slopes, sandy floors, pinnacles, caves, and caverns. This Bay also offers some fascinating macro and muck diving, featuring flasher wrasse, pygmy seahorses, the interesting and rarely seen walking shark and a plethora of colorful critters. Diving in West Papua’s Kaimana’s Triton Bay offers an unrivaled experience, second to none.

©Diana Himmelspach bagan_fishermen West Papua fishermen can live on their bagans for weeks fishing at night and feeding whale sharks with scraps of baitfish in the morning. They believe the more whale sharks they attract the bigger will be the catch.
©Diana Himmelspach bagan_fishermen West Papua fishermen can live on their bagans for weeks fishing at night and feeding whale sharks with scraps of baitfish in the morning. They believe the more whale sharks they attract the bigger will be the catch.

Cruise Raja Ampat and Triton Bay

Triton Bay can be best experienced on a liveaboard Boat Cruise from Raja Ampat towards the West Coast of Papua. Cruising Raja Ampat and journeying to Kaimana on an Indonesian Phinisi boat offers not only a sailing trip on a historic craft but a chance to see some of the most fantastic scenery in the world, above and below the surface.

©Diana Himmelspach Simple Life – A “Bagan” is a floating wooden construction that serves to the fishermen both as a working space and a temperate home.
©Diana Himmelspach Simple Life – A “Bagan” is a floating wooden construction that serves to the fishermen both as a working space and a temperate home.

Because Raja Ampat has so many incredible dive sites, iconic marine life, viewpoints, and sandy beaches, there is a wide variety of ways you can schedule your trip to Triton Bay. A great sample itinerary would be to start your cruise in Waisai, the common entry point to Raja Ampat, and continue your voyage to Southern Misool and the sites along the Papuan Coast.  This sample itinerary lets you traverse the Birds Head Seascape, the global epicenter of marine biology in the Coral Triangle, takes you Penemu, Misool, Daram Islands, Mommon and finally to Triton Bay.

Most liveaboard cruises to Triton Bay depart from Waisai and finish in Kaimana or vice versa. This particular route via Raja Ampat’s Misool is seldom cruised, taking great care to preserve the integrity of the local village life, land and seascape. Cruising Raja Ampat to Triton Bay promises to be unequaled experience in both beauty and adventure perfectly designed for a private charter accommodating divers of all kinds.

©Diana Himmelspach West Papua’s fishermen consider whale sharks to be their omen that brings good fortune. They feed whale sharks with small baitfish of their nightly catch. Usually feeding mostly on plankton, the small baitfish are also one of the whale sharks favourites.
©Diana Himmelspach West Papua’s fishermen consider whale sharks to be their omen that brings good fortune. They feed whale sharks with small baitfish of their nightly catch. Usually feeding mostly on plankton, the small baitfish are also one of the whale sharks favourites.

Getting to Triton Bay

For Cruise Departures from Kaimana, fly to Ambon from Jakarta, catching then your final flight to Utarum Airport in Kaimana. From Kaimana, followed by a short journey on a tender, you will embark the Yacht.

For Cruises embarking in Raja Ampat – Sorong or Waisai – take a flight from Jakarta to Sorong. from Jakarta it is easy to connect to all major hubs in the area, like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong or connect to flights from the US or Europe.

For Cruises embarking in Raja Ampat – Sorong or Waisai – take a flight from Jakarta to Sorong. from Jakarta it is easy to connect to all major hubs in the area, like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong or connect to flights from the US or Europe.

©Diana Himmelspach Whale sharks are solitary animals living most of their lonesome lives solemnly cruising deep waters. They tend to occasionally gather for brief feeding together in abundant waters before they separate again. West Papua, however, is proud to be an all-year-round home of a settled population of whale sharks.
©Diana Himmelspach Whale sharks are solitary animals living most of their lonesome lives solemnly cruising deep waters. They tend to occasionally gather for brief feeding together in abundant waters before they separate again. West Papua, however, is proud to be an all-year-round home of a settled population of whale sharks.

Book a Cruise to Triton Bay

Barefoot Yachts offers fully customized Cruising Liveaboards and Scuba Diving Charters into the remotest corners of the Indonesian Island Archipelago.

Head to Barefoot Yachts for more info, pricing and how to book.

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